Ben Settle

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Something to think about:

Back in January, a headline on Drudge caught my eye about the so-called “enemies of writing.” It was a piece written by a guy named George Packer from the Atlantic. And it was about how writers are more and more writing to appease the crowd vs telling the truth or saying anything that goes against the beliefs of the group(s) they belong to or want to associate with.

Considering the market that site panders to, it was one of those “the irony writes itself” pieces.

But, it was also useful, in a way.

Here are some notable quotes from the article to illustrate:

“Writers learn to avoid expressing thoughts or associating with undesirables that might be controversial with the group and hurt their numbers.”

“[The enemy of writing is] the fear of moral judgment, public shaming, social ridicule, and ostracism. It’s the fear of landing on the wrong side of whatever group matters to you. . .because popular outrage has more weight than the party line.”

“If an editorial assistant points out that a line in a draft article will probably detonate an explosion on social media, what is her supervisor going to do—risk the blowup, or kill the sentence? Probably the latter. . .So the mob has the final edit.”

And finally, my favorite quote from the article:

“…a writer who carries the thought police around in his head, who always feels compelled to ask: Can I say this? Do I have a right? Is my terminology correct? Will my allies get angry? Will it help my enemies? Could it get me ratioed on Twitter?— that writer’s words will soon become lifeless.”

This is one of the many reasons I left social media.

The dumbed-down nature of the like-and-retweet brigade was getting cringeworthy.

It was all about signaling and being liked, and nothing else.

I suspect this is why my old elBenbo’s Lair Facebook group was so addictive to people. It was the only place people could not only say whatever they wanted (within the confines of the clearly-established rules I instituted — like no giving value, no virtue signaling, etc), but I’d jettison anyone who tried to shut people down if they said something unpopular or offensive to someone’s delicate psyches or unpopular — including (especially) people I disagreed with.

The whole point was to foster debate, not silence people.

I seriously doubt there are many such places like that left.

It’s also why there are so few legitimately interesting email lists to be on either.


If all you want do is write stuff that appeases the mob of psychopaths wanting to cancel everyone they disagree with, or if you fear being ostracized by your favorite social media sewing circle, or if being (oh noes!) called names because of something you write keeps you up at night, you aren’t going to be writing anything worth reading.

I daresay this goes for writing emails and sales copy, too.

All right enough of this rabble.

The June 2020 “Email Players” issue is all about the mechanical writing side of copywriting for sales letters, emails, sales scripts for webinars or videos, and so on. But if you aren’t willing to tell the truth in your writing and not only not appease but even horrify clients (especially if they want you to write “by committee”) & customers with the truth… you best pass on this one, Maynard.

And, for that matter, pass on being a marketer or writer of any kind at all.

My opinion.

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Ben Settle

  • Book & Tabloid Newsletter Publisher
  • Email Supremacist
  • Alt-Copywriter
  • Software Investor
  • Pulp Novelist

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